The Fox and Hounds…

March 2020
by Muset


Here is an exercise for anybody who wants to play with anagrams.  The original poem line is “begin it where warm waters halt.”  Try and find an anagram for that line, given the context of the following story.  Don’t worry about punctuation.  If you get it correct, I think you may also learn the key word.

Back in 2018 I took vacation to London to see some of the many museums that I hadn’t yet visited.  One of those places was the Imperial War Museum and they had a special area reserved for displaying the medals and short biographies of many of the Victoria Cross medal recipients.

Philip Neame was born 12 December, 1888 in southeast England when Jack the Ripper was terrorizing east London .

Neame joined the Royal Engineers in 1908 and found himself in the French trenches during WWI.  He set about improvising hand grenades from jam jars, scrap metal and gun cotton.  

He received the Victoria Cross, among other honours, for single-handedly fending off a German counter-attack with field-improvised grenades in 1914.  

He won an Olympic gold medal in 1924 for a sharp-shooting-on-the-move event called the Running Deer.  The Olympic medal was not in the display cabinet but there were seventeen other medals in addition to the Victoria Cross packed in there.

In February of 1940, Philip was posted to Egypt and Trans-Jordan as a high-ranking division commander.  The Suez Canal was a very strategic British asset, being the main trade route to its imperial possession India.  The Red Sea is tropical but the Mediterranean is several degrees colder.

suez egypt

There are military bases are along the canal.

Things were going well for the Allies in North Africa until Marshal Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox,” arrived at Tripoli, Libya, in February of 1941 with two tank divisions.

Unfortunately for Philip, he was one of three generals among thousands of his men in the armoured division and Australian division all captured in Libya by Rommel’s Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK) in April, 1941.  The actual German commander who captured them was Gerhard von Schwerin.  The other two captured generals were John Combe and Richard O’Connor.

Max 12

The three captured British generals were each in their several armoured command vehicle, the AEC (Associated Equipment Company) “Dorchester,” nicknamed after the famous Dorchester Hotel in London because they were so capacious and comfortable.  Marshal Rommel liked those vehicles so much he used them for himself and his own staff.  The Germans renamed those armoured beasts DAK “Mammoth”.  The fox was dressed like the hound.


A Dorchester/Mammoth over-painted with the German cross.

 Incarcerated in Italy near Florence, the British generals spent seven months constructing an escape tunnel along with their new prison friends Brigadiers James Hargest and Reginald Miles of New Zealand, and Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, who also had a Victoria Cross medal from action in 1916 France.

The two New Zealanders made it safely to Switzerland, but the four Britons were all recaptured within a fortnight and reunited in their prison at Castello di Vincigliata near Florence with a month-long solitary penalty.

800px Castello di vincigliata2C torre 2

Castello di Vincigliata– Gaoler to the rich and famous.

Erwin Rommel’s final North African offensive had failed only a few weeks earlier in March, 1943, even with the addition of new Tiger tanks of the 501 Panzer Division joining in November, 1942.  Rommel was reassigned to Greece and then France.

Incredibly in August, 1943, Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart was escorted from prison to Rome on the orders of the Italian King and Prime Minister to be the messenger to Britain concerning Italy’s desire for an armistice with the Allies. 

The September 3, 1943 Italian Armistice lead to Neame’s release into the Nazi-held countryside with companions Combe, O’Connor and Marshal Owen Boyd.  They made their way just over a hundred miles to the coast near Rimini.  Combe joined the local Libero partisans while the rest hired a boat making it to Allied-occupied territory at Termoli in December, 1943.  

Combe made it back to Britain in May, 1944.  That same month Erwin Rommel joined the resistance against Hitler, which failed in July and sealed his fate.  He accepted the offer of suicide to spare his family.

Sadly, Marshal Boyd died from a heart attack in August, 1944, at least at home in London.

Gerhard von Schwerin went on to survive Stalingrad with great honours and then Aachen with heroism by trying to spare the civilians and architecture of that immensely important historic town.  He was later captured in Italy by the British forces in April, 1945 and released two years later after the war.

Philip Neame was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey in August 1945 and knighted in 1946, among many other honours.

Nobody knows what happened to the three DAK Mammoths but they were probably abandoned somewhere out in the Sahara Desert, broke down and no fuel.

-by Muset





42 thoughts on “The Fox and Hounds…

  1. That was a really good reading (especially the history and war part). Thanks for the Mammoth fun.!

  2. Dal,
    I got my quote from a movie staring Donald Sutherland, one of my favorite actors.

    “I realized fear one morning, with the blare of the fox hunter’s sound. When they’re all chasin’ the poor bloody fox, ’tis safer to be dressed like the hound.”
    Jack Higgins

    • Nice! I’m a huge fan of his son Kiefer. Especially enjoyed him in one of his earlier roles – Flatliners circa 1990

    • Hey there Mr. F,

      It’s great to hear from you again. Sure hope you and your family doing fine and are hunkered down like we are, keeping a low profile from this nasty Coronavirus.

      Anyway, I can only judge Churchill from what I’ve read in the history books as I was just in high school when he died in ‘65, however, I think he was a great man and visionary. Great quotes too.

      And I have to agree that Donald Sutherland is a super actor and since we are both Cancers.



    • Sometimes a hound gets chased by some foxes.
      They laid some bait in traps in some boxes.
      Foxes dressed like hounds they bad-jacketed the hound til he looked like a fox.
      And put a muzzle on his snout held tight by some locks.

      Clever they were these traps that they made
      But that ol hound smelled it coming, so he hid behind rocks
      and the foxes got snared in the trap that they laid
      for the hound of hounds who looked like a fox

      In the end the hound trotted away
      going North from the South
      chomping night and by day
      with their bait in his mouth

    • Robert Duvall was in it too, 1976, also Duvall did “Lonesome Dove”, it had many scenes filmed in New Mexico. Black Lake near Angle Fire was suppose to be Montana or Wyoming,,, filmed 1985. I wonder what I was doing about 1985?


    • My take is not to believe everything you see or hear. It looked like one group in the tanks, but in reality it was the Germans. Sometimes things can look one way when in reality they are the opposite. Upon realizing this, maybe people can let themselves trust each other again. At least to the point of giving the benefit of the doubt.

      Here’s a good example:–King_suicide_letter

  3. I read a book in high school “The Desert Fox” which talked about the Mammoth’s. Good story, thanks for sharing!

  4. Muset – Found this by doing a Google search:

    – I began west trail, where warmth

    But now I am going to try an anagram finder program…

    • Muset – How about?:

      Bantamweight whirlers were at…

      Thinking of Moran vs. Lewis in 1889…

      And ‘Moran’ and ‘Lewis’, and how those names can be married to a map, circa Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.

      • Muset – Like, I give you ‘title’ to the gold???:

        The first title fight with gloves was between Chappie Moran and Ray Lewis in 1889. At that time, the limit for this weight class was 110 pounds. In 1910, however, the British settled on a limit of 118.

        The gloves are off. Is the ‘word that is key’ you are thinking of ‘title’?


  5. Muset- the only good anagram for the first clue specific to a location on a map is: saltwater baring me wherewith. This would tie in to the context to know somebody. In this case a young Forrest determined to ride his bike 20 miles to save paying for a shower. The quiet serenity of that place hours at a time. Didnt he say river bathing is best? Would explain why it’s the first clue.

  6. Muset, did you add this line…later:
    “Nobody knows what happened to the three DAK Mammoths but they were probably abandoned somewhere out in the Sahara Desert, broke down and no fuel.”

    Just does not seem to fit the story timeline?


    • Yes, sorry, they would have been abandoned long before the end of Rommel’s tenure in North Africa.

      • FF spoke of a desert section in TTOTC, where the ruler fired him. Grandma told the guy she gave forest the pie because she made it on her break. It was a severe scene. She even took forest in the locker and told him a secret, where I’m sure he kept it. Another one of FF’s capers. We all know how FF likes to sprinkle hints.

  7. Fun fun.

    For anyone looking, wordsmith dot org is by far, the best anagrammer on the planet, imo.
    I’ve been using it since first getting on with AOL.
    Use the advanced section and you can put in “must include” entries.

    Given the number of letters, even with a general theme, the possibilities are numerous.
    One interesting one I found using all letters.
    Hitler West Wing Arab War Theme

    thanks Muset!

  8. Ok, Muset. You have my head spinning with this intriguing but familiar sounding essay. Are you referring to tailwaters? I think I know where one of the missing mammoths is. I think he tried to get into the gates of hell but since he was an animal, he could not really sin and just got stuck.

  9. Although its probably a lot of fun, I’m not sure how it would give you the key word. Maybe it does, but surely that would be coincidental.
    Wouldn’t making the lines/clues in to anagrams, not come under the heading “messing with the poem”?
    Just my opinion.

    • Hi Jason,

      The following is from TTOTC, page 147; “…..and some of the things I’ve enjoyed the most in my life have come from the smallest voices. That a butterfly is really a “flutterby” is one example.”

      And so it appears to me anagrams are by all means on the table, though I have to say that anagramming all of line 5 as Muset suggests, seems contrary to another of Forrest’s quotes from his 1/12/18 ABC Nightline Interview; “Well I will give you a clue – try to SIMPLIFY if you can. That’s good advice.”


      • Hi pinaturbocharlie- Thanks for your response. For me though it’s still off the table. Although flutterby is undeniably an anagram of butterfly, a small voice incorrectly saying some thing sweet, that is understandable to an adult is more of a “sounds like” mistake, rather than their correct use of an anagram. That, plus the “simplify” statement plus Fenn saying “don’t mess with my poem”, amongst other things would suggest to me that anagrams will not be part of the successful solve. All imo of course. I guess time will tell.

        • Jason,

          I am in no way suggesting anyone change the poem.

          4 April 2013 – “Emily, All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem. The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck in the search. F”

          The poem is within a chapter in the book and therefore the possibility of anagrams apply to it as well. The POSSIBILITY.


          • Not sure how to respond without it seeming argumentative or like I’m trying to change your opinion, which isn’t my intent at all. so I will just say thank you for sharing your thoughts. good luck to you and stay safe..

  10. Muset – Those are some interesting historical stories and were fun to read about. Related to the Chase, I guess the main connection is Forrest’s story of his meeting with Rommel’s widow & son as he described in his Preface in TFTW.

    I’m stymied as to what anagram in the first line of the poem gives the key word that you have in mind. The best I can come up with at the moment is that you can get the name “Neame” out of the letters contained in the first line. Maybe that’s a piece of it?

    One other thing: your post reminds me of a great old movie I saw once called “Five Graves to Cairo”. It was made in 1943 and Rommel is one of the main characters in it. The plot also features a very clever method that Rommel uses to hide some valuable information in plain sight on a map. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but I think you’d get a kick out of it, especially as related to your post and the Chase. Thanks for your write-up!

  11. Ok Muset, your keyword, and mine are juxtaposed, “HALT” is the keyword IMPO but you already used it, so anagram it ant a gram in this search for me except to see that my comfort level in the Saraha Desert is Waters, Where do they come from? Cyrenaika, or anagram to Rainy Area, Basin for those who live in Rio Linda, CA…


  12. Very interesting article. Seems all the characters had very active and adventurous careers. Thank God I didn’t, with my luck I may have lost the war for the allies if I had been alive then.
    I was available for the Vietnam War , but thanks to my very flat feet and a broken wrist a couple years earlier, which I never even got looked at, we had no insurance and my dad just said suck it up boy. Even though I never believed in that war, I never protested, there was plenty of that going around. So, even though I thought I wouldn’t get drafted I enlisted in the Navy Reserves for a two year hitch. To me, Lyndon Johnson was anything but convincing when he announced the Bay of Tonkin incident, which turned out to be suspiciously fabricated when several years ago declassified Pentagon Papers enlightened anyone would read them. Anyway that my story and I am sticking to it. Thanks for your service Dal, and thanks for that interesting article


  13. “It’s under the big dubbya I tell ya!” From It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Where Warm Waters = Mad, Mad, Mad. Madison River. Winks.

    • At least I see where this muddy talk is coming from!!!

      Why waiting weary walkers will want wet water while wishing winters weather went.

      There has to be a song in that somewhere.

  14. I would like to respond to some comments but I came down with shingles yesterday and my only good eye is swollen shut. I have to pry it open to read what I just typed. I should be able to see in a few days..

    • Bad timing, Muset, try laughter…getting the anagrams for SHINGLES: ENGLISH, HINGES, SINGE, SIGN, NEIGH, NIGH, SIGH, SHIEL, LINES, LIE, LEIN, LENS, LEIS, ISLE, HIS, SIN, NIL, HI…

      HUMOR and Covid, so I did an anagram and this came up and looks like: VOID, DOC, COD, ID, VD …VID LATER… advice, BE CALM, STAY COOL.


  15. Thank you for the history piece Muset and I’m sorry you came down with Shingles. I’ve been there. In researching your story I found a fun tidbit that may or may not give us some information about two of the three Mammoths. “Max and Moritz: A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks” was a classical tale written and illustrated by Willhelm Busch. The story was written in rhymed couplets (I don’t know what those are) and was dark and humorous and is still widely popular (especially in Germany).

    I wonder if the popular characters were namesake of two of the three Mammoths? What was the name of the third?

    Feel better soon Muset.

  16. Enjoyed your story, Muset. The Fox and the Hound reminded me of Mr. Fenn writing about the fox dressing like the hound, in his book.

  17. Hi Jason,

    Above you said you didn’t know how to respond. I understand you don’t want to be argumentative and I respect that.

    All I was attempting to do was to present what I believe to be the ‘givens’ (my words) from Forrest. How those ‘givens’ are interpreted by us in the search community is what makes us different and individual. That’s one reason why I believe Dal insists on the IMO qualifier.

    So it’s all good with me. You have your opinion and I have mine.

    I just wish I could start planning another expedition into the RMs, but I have a feeling we are in for at least a 1 year postponement unless some serious medicine gets developed soon.

    Be good…….pinatubocharlie

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